Friday, November 30, 2012

Spirit's little shoves

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She's still out there, somewhere, on her own, tending to her mother's death, trying to find like-minded community for the few weeks she's visiting. She's still tugging at my heart though.

I met Rebecca earlier this week as I was writing the last post, as a matter of fact. My oldest had been off sick and I gathered her up mid afternoon and took her for tea and a homework session at Whole Foods. I had some supplements to purchase and a blog to write. I like the energy in the communal cafe.

Funny thing is I was writing about feeling disconnected from meaningful community as I overheard a conversation happening next to me. One sided, clearly a woman was finalizing insurance and cremation details after her mother's death. She was so matter of fact and clear. Unlike someone lost or stumbling. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to say something.

"Not that I was really eavesdropping, but I happened to hear that your mother just died. I am sorry," fell from my lips almost before I could really think too much and shut off my heart.

Unsure as to what the response would be, I braced myself a bit. The brown eyes penetrated mine and she said something like "Thank you. Yes, she did and I'm the only one left and have to handle everything."

All else melted away and we merged into a very engaging connection that covered diverse topics from her reiki work to my fibromyalgia, her home in Hawaii and schooling at SCPA*, my amazing shaman and how she's been her mother's therapist since she was two and that this death, welcomed by her mother, was, somehow, freeing, for Rebecca. 

She admitted that she doesn't connect easily and was struggling to find some deep community in Cincinnati while she's here for three weeks. As we parted, she thanked me for reaching out.

I went back to my daughter and blogging, but I wasn't finished with her. As she was packing up, I stopped her and hastily jotted down my phone number. I selfishly prefaced it, handing it to her with "I'm not always so available with kids and all, but if you'd need to call me or need someone here's my number."

I'm not very proud that I didn't do this right off and that I had to set some boundary. That may be experience speaking. I have the kind of face that complete strangers spill their life story to, entangling me in something before I even realize. She had mentioned that she didn't have a car and if I was going to see the shaman, maybe I could give her a ride. I knew I wasn't while she was in town, so I didn't offer. Besides, how inconvenient would it be to drive from Milford to Hyde Park to take her to Goshen and then get her back -- all when I didn't even have a shamanic session scheduled?

How utterly selfish. I am kicking myself a bit and secretly hoping she'll call.

She's not like that, I believe now. And I also understand that I did act on some spiritual leading and now I have to let the rest go. I did give her an opening; albeit a narrow one, but an opening nonetheless.

• When have I unexpectedly encountered a stranger?
• How did I open myself?
• Did I fully trust Spirit's leading?
• How do I let go of my response and not judge it?
• What has a Rebecca-like experience tapped in me?

immersed in words,
yet grooving on
the peopled energy


writing on one
level, paying
attention to
my surroundings
on another

feeling the
nudge build
I can no
longer contain it

and I act

without thinking

that's as
Spirit would have it

otherwise, I'd
never respond
to those
little shoves

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Phantom fannies and pockets of community

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After experiencing the intensity of a gathering of caricature artists secondhand during my husband's recent convention, I returned home a little deflated. Jealous even. Missing something. Not feeling connected. To the point of posting so on Facebook.

The first response came from a young adult, whose wisdom I have learned to trust. Remember "awesome Quakerness," she responded. Oh, yeah, my Quaker Meeting, the one I have attended regularly for 14 years, served on numerous committees, loved and been annoyed with, but mostly loved. The place I feel accepted for who I am, but, sometimes, also unseen. The one I've disengaged from a bit to go out into the real world and complete the work to which God calls. That one.

So I journeyed there Sunday with those thoughts in my head and heart. I wanted someone to reach out to me. Little did I know it would start with my 15-year-old being tempted to worship with a bookstore trip after. As I headed into worship, I left her and my younger daughter behind to debate whether to attend First Day School or hang, silently, with the adults. The younger went one way and the older, another. When she brushed up against me on the pew, my being fluttered. It took me Somewhere Else. To the first time I held her hand, we pushed through the glass-and-wood doors and took our seats on the satiny benches polished by 50 years of phantom fannies.  She was a toddler and I, a young(er) mother seeking relief from the pain of an auto accident. When my favorite song, the Shaker "Simple Gifts," lulled out of the piano, I knew I was home. Before any worship had officially begun.

How many stories had I heard of people seeking the right faith community for, well,  years? I merely went where my mother and daughter told me to. My mom had known I was struggling and searching and encouraged me to try the Quakers. "I think you'll like the simplicity," she said. Didn't hurt that my favorite Methodist pastor from childhood was the interim. Shortly before that, one morning my daughter greeted me, unprompted, with "Mommy, I know Jesus." Yes you do, I thought, and it's time to find a spiritual home.

That home has been Cincinnati Friends Meeting, through thick and thin. Sunday, the minister's message focused on getting young Quakers back to meeting. Like Autumn and baby Carter, who came with his dad (the first person to ever give Autumn, gum and I reminded him) and mom, granddad, who grew up in the meeting, and great-grandparents. They have been rocks of this meeting. In fact, Papa Paul was the first to speak to me that initial visit with Autumn. We bonded over his Cincinnati Mortuary School shirt because I had worked in the funeral industry.

After a few months, back when Autumn and I first attended and when a permanent minister was hired, Quakers asked if I would leave as well. No way, I invariably answered because I remembered Paul and his kindness to a stranger. He reminisced about how he'd get down on the playroom floor with both of my girls, just like he now does with Carter.

It all was a warm reminder that I do, indeed, have more than pockets of community.

• Where do I experience community?
• How do I experience it?
• What's my role in building that community?
• When it seems lacking, how do I fill that need?
• How has Spirit filled it for me?

after witnessing this
intense crush of
gung-ho artists,
working, socializing

I was, no doubt,

envious that I
lacked this
closeness of
like others

I felt I
only had
of community

but was
by a young
and wise

that it
was no farther
than my
oldest daughter,
my faith community,
my family,
my neighborhood

my heart

Friday, November 23, 2012

Through God's touch

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It was a smaller affair, which may have sharpened the lens of perspective. So often, we tumbled out of the house, food in hand, kids in tow and arrived a few minutes late for Thanksgiving at my parents'. This year, we were ahead of schedule with the exception of my husband driving back a half hour later to pick up our 15-year-old after her outfit was out of the dryer.

Mine were the only children: my nieces grown up and onto their own lives, my out-of-town sister making the trip at Christmas.

And yet, my mother had polished the silver, laid out the family china, cooked a turkey, made two kinds of dressing (one gluten free just for me), boiled the potatoes and arranged appetizers ... all the while on oxygen. She struggled with the long, green snake trailing her for 50 feet as she flowed between the dining room and kitchen. She was most concerned someone else would trip.

Just last week, as I was out of town on a trip planned for months, she, my father and twin sister traipsed to the Cleveland Clinic to get more definitive answers on what, specifically, could be done for her two weakened heart valves. Essentially, she was told they'd have to get her lung pressure down before they could do anything invasive, hence the full-time oxygen. I remember when she came home from a long hospital stay this summer and talked her primary-care doc out of the full-time air. He made her take a healthy walk without and agreed she could cut the day-time cord. I also remember her, two days home, green snake in hand, riding her stationery bicycle: I want to get in as good a shape as I can, she said at the time. She was sick of having been in a hospital bed for 10 days.

Wednesday evening as my mother and I were making last-minute food decisions, we talked about her cardiologist appointment earlier in the day. She said that doc calculated she'd be having her heart surgery in a few months. How's that? I asked because it didn't seem to square with what she heard in Cleveland. Oh, she said, we misinterpreted the surgery risk. What we'd thought was risk of survival, which looked pretty low, was risk of failure!

When I discussed this yesterday with my sister, she had not misunderstood the risk as we had, but it wasn't good enough yet for Cleveland.

If anybody can beat those odds I know it's my mom. She never ceases to amaze me with her positive attitude, hard-work ethic, sense of humor and deep faith that she is where God wants her.

We've had some pretty amazing talks about death lately, a subject that I welcome because it is so little spoken about. Hasn't hurt that I worked in the funeral industry a few years. Turns out neither of us, my mother or me, is afraid of what comes after life. It occurs to me that we have been heavily influenced by my mom's baby sister who died of breast cancer, but with such a rare and glowing grace that you could palpably feel God's touch. You just knew she wasn't alone.

That comforts me as I know my mom's time is limited here, as it is for all of us.

• Who have been my examples of faith?
• What lessons have those encounters imparted?
• What are my feelings about death?
• In general? For someone I love? For myself?
• How can I witness God's presence even in death?

flurrying about,
from the fridge to the
dining-room table

only aware of
the shiny green
tail lest it trip
up someone else

gracious in her
hospitable way
of welcoming
us into her
home and heart

where we we
always remain

and she in ours,

this day a fond
memory in
distant times

when we feel
her through
God's touch

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Glue of God

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I have a broken body though you can't see it. I hide it pretty well. Unfortunately, years of chronic pain have twisted my mind toward the negative. I am working on reversing that trend and I see rays of hope.  This invisible cloak, however, isn't always so easy to wear. Take, for example, the time I was desperate and visited a new physician begging for help. "Well, you don't look sick," he said. I told him looks could be deceiving.

But then, last week, I witnessed my predicament in reverse. Overtly wounded veterans looking tall as they strode in – braces, canes and prosthetics in place – on Segways in a ceremony giving them the gift of mobility in return for their courage and loss. It all transpired at the Alamo.

It broke my heart. Broke. 

At the conclusion, we were invited to meet these veterans of Afghanistan. Staring into their young faces startled me. My instinct was to grab their hands and hold on for dear life, theirs and mine. I detected anguish and uncertainty in those brave eyes. I think they were soldier expressions for the most part. And not used to being looked at so directly since the loss of wholeness. But the touch, that was revealing. Some was tentative, but some was fierce, accompanied by a constant round of thank you Mams after I thanked them. I felt they were reaching for connection in this new state. Perhaps thanking me for noticing they were still human, if bionicly so. No complaints, no whining, simply a demeanor of acceptance and a preparedness for what comes next.

What a lesson for me! I have never experienced being seen as unwhole in the way I suspect these injured soldiers have.

Stilled awed, I stumbled away, caught off guard by a city ambassador with whom I struck up a conversation. I related what I had just witnessed at the Alamo. He was riveted and mentioned a fellow guide was struggling from the ravages of war silently, mentally and alone. He was angry at how this invisible wound is not recognized. We talked a bit more and he said a WWII veteran told him once, "There are no atheists in the fox holes."

I believe that means we're not alone, ever ... in the good stuff or the bad. It's mostly that we don't notice during the hopeful times.

All of this brokeness can be overwhelming until I am reminded of healing and that mending often makes the wound stronger. Knitting together injured parts creates a new bond, one that had not previously existed and one tougher than the original. It's that liminal place where two or three come together to create a newness. The wounded, Spirit and healing.

Our brokenness makes us stronger, if only we could recognize and acknowledge that in each other, then thank God.

• In what ways have I been broken?
• How have I experienced that in others?
• How do I respond to brokenness?
• What has it taught me?
• Where do I see God in the brokenness?

each time a ceramic
broke, I'd collect the debris,
saving it for some
colorful, new creation

something old and broken
made new in a

the adhesive holding
the smaller pieces,
binding them
ever more tightly

the glue
of God can
do similarly
in our minds,
spirits and

if we
open ourselves

Friday, November 16, 2012

A mere tourist

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I walked to the Alamo to learn some Texan history and because I find Spanish missions some of the most magical places.

My experience there has been life altering, I am certain. To what degree remains open. Never what I expected, but that's Spirit's way.

Arriving by a circuitous route, I was disappointed to see something official about to happen: a podium, semi-circle of chairs behind, audience rows, people gathering and a woman touching my arm to hand me a program. "We're presenting Segways to veterans injured in Afghanistan and we'd love for you to stay."

And, so I did – somewhat uncomfortably as a peace-seeking Quaker. It's where God planted me, I understand, in the midst of soldiers.

I was mesmerized as each of the 31 young men and a sprinkling of women zipped up to the presenter on their new Segways. I'd always thought of the two wheels as a lazy way to tour a city. They stood or sat tall, hiding emotions. When each was assisted disembarking, I grew heartsick. All had leg injuries. Many were amputees; some doubly. They were bionic miracles raised from the still-raw battlefields.

One of the dignitaries, Air Force General Hal Hornburg, noted, "In the past, they would not have been here today. The Segway is to give them some degree of freedom taken away" by war.

Segs for Vets founder Jerry Kerr, himself injured, remarked that the vehicles "empower vets to take back their lives. Today is all about showing commitment to our nation's heroes. Not enough can be done, but today's present brings them much closer." To independence, I think he would have said.

When seated, the semi circle of steel parts, shortened pant legs, canes and braces was stunning. More so when you recognized such youthful faces.

What are we doing to these young men and women? my heart cried.

I had a hard time stomaching a Marine colonel's challenge to "think of what we've accomplished." Again, my heart answered: broken young adults ... on both sides.

Then, we were invited to congratulate the recipients. I was near the first in line, looking each person directly in the eyes, grabbing whatever hand was available and simply saying: "Thank you." Almost without exception, each responded, "Thank you, mam." I could tell they were not used to people looking them straight in the eye. I wanted to recognize their wholeness in God's eyes. I connected with the young man from Maineville ... just minutes from my house. He got a good chuckle that I just happened to be there. Farther down the line, I grabbed a very young hand and almost could not let go. Neither could he, I suspect. I don't know what it was, but it was beyond me.

Afterward, I fled to a private area unsure whether to throw up or cry. I was numb and under some spell the entire rest of the day. I looked at others differently, still haunted by the encounter.

I attempted to tour the Alamo under this fog, feeling connected to the fact this ground is a shrine. First as a church community, then as a testament to the Texan fighting spirit and loss of life. For me, however, it represents the place I got up close and personal with the ravages of war.

I will be piecing this lesson together for a very long time, and, as I do I will continue to carry those 31 soldiers in my heart. I really did not want to wash my hands yesterday for fear I would lose that connection.

• When have I felt placed somewhere by God?
• How did I respond?
• How was I able to surrender to the experience?
• How did it become part of me?
• How has it changed me?

just a mere tourist,
passing through a new
city on no particular day

arriving at the biggest
attraction, annoyed
that something else
was transpiring

though quickly sensing
some higher purpose
in my being there

spun way out of
my comfort zone,
but automatically
immersing into
that discomfort

as a peacemaker
confronted by
the harsh realities
of war

and yet,
finding a
special room
in my heart

one I had not
known existed

Monday, November 12, 2012

In the stinking middle

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The honeymoon must be over at Artsy Fartsy, the monthly arts-exploration I hold for at-risk kids in my neighborhood. I'm not saying I'm not deeply engaged with these kids; I still am – maybe more so now than ever. I'm just saying some are comfortable enough to not be on their best, at-attention, behavior.

What is really happening, I believe, is their relationship patterns from where they live are showing up here, on neutral turf. We've always been clear there's no bullying here. I did not anticipate reverse bullying, which is, still, bullying.

One of the girls came to the party a session late for whatever reason. We were warned at last summer's on-site registration to stay away from that family; "they're trouble." But we couldn't because this young girl was eager to join and her mother, whom we awoke after a late night in jail, was just as eager to sign her up. It appears they wish to break the cycle.

I never gave it another thought until just before the first session when I visited to hand out van-permission slips. I came across a boy I tried hard to recruit. When he looked at my list of kids, he said "I can't if she's there. I'm not allowed within 100 feet of her."

Oh, a restraining order, I thought. This work will not be a breeze. I had to tell the boy that the other child had signed up first and he would have to do what he would have to do. I could not kick her out. Boy, did my heart ache over this.

Two sisters, who were my first recruits, slunk back when they, too, saw this girl was a participant. "Were not allowed to play with her," they said. So I paid their dad a visit and said this group would be highly supervised by adults. He felt it would not be an issue; that is only was one when the kids were unsupervised and playing at home.

Since she was a no-show the first time, everyone settled in comfortably. The second time, she arrived and was an absolute angel ... no issues of any kind.

I didn't think anything of it as I set the "Thanksgiving" table with wooden discs for plates, chalk, markers and scissors for utensils. I made the seating arrangements, marking each with an envelope containing a personal note of gratitude and their name fancily printed on the outside. We were having two new boys, so I sat them with our faithful volunteer and lone boy. I put the new girl from outside of this community with a more mature girl and a playful one. I paired two older girls that seem to be friends, two younger ones the same way and placed the girl in question with an quiet, older girl. They got along fine. And everything went swimmingly, through the introduction and constructing of the finger labyrinths. Though I notice this child seeks much one-on-one attention. Fortunately, a very experienced teacher-volunteer worked with her.

Everything was on track until the kids, three at a time, had turns experiencing the Christmas-light labyrinth in the empty room across the hall. My older daughter was chaperoning and making sure kids stuck to the guidelines. Of course, they're kids, so I did not expect stillness and quiet.

After everyone had completed their projects, we let them all experience the labyrinth, which had become a game of who could slide into the pillows in the center and actually get a pillow. A sort of musical chairs. Not what I had anticipated, but is it ever? Naturally, someone got left out and came to tell me. She was called a snitch, which I heard, and told because she bullys at home, she couldn't here ... this from some other girls. Interestingly, there was a video clip of the incident and the so-called bully was not bullying, but neither, was the person who slid onto the pillow first. It was more of a miscommunication. However, because one tattled, the others felt they had to retaliate.

It was quiet, not overt, and others, I think, may have missed it. I had naively hoped that these girls might establish a new pattern here they could take home. I still hold that prayer, but I was unsettled that girls I thought I could count on turned somewhat vicious on this younger girl. I understand, but am clear there isn't room for that at Artsy Fartsy. Especially, in the MIDDLE of the labyrinth! They knew it was a sacred place for centering and were even writing their own gratitude notes there. I guess temptation was too great as it often is for most of us.

The session was still really wonderful overall, but this really stuck in my heart. Perhaps because, when the younger girl found a stray bead in the labyrinth materials, she brought it to me and said, "I know way this means: What would Jesus do?" I was taken aback because it seemed like she really did. This was before the labyrinth incident. While reading the notes of gratitude afterward, two spoke explicitly of Jesus and I wondered if these had been her notes, not that the source mattered.

I slept poorly that night, stewing about what to do.

Sunday in worship, our minister spoke about the true meaning of Jesus' command that we love our enemies and turn they other cheek. He encouraged radical resistance, so radical that it displayed the idiocy of oppression and, often, he did so with humor. HUMOR, I thought. That IS the answer to what's happening with these girls. Kids always respond well to humor.

I don't know more than that now, but it sure feels right. I plan to prayerfully discern what role I am to take, if any, between now and next time. I'd appreciate your holding all of this, especially the three girls, in prayer as well. They have good hearts, just old patterns. Wow, doesn't that hit home?

• When has behavior between others upset me?
• How have I responded?
• If I invoked prayer, what was my prayer?
• What response did I receive?
• How do I model Jesus' radical teachings?

projector wouldn't work
thermos full of
hot chocolate imploded, 
we'd arrived late,
the kids came even later
one who pledged to be there,
rode his bike off somewhere else

it was an inauspicious

but we muddled

and once the group
was creatively
we all settled

for good, I'd hoped

even the three-at-a-time
through the labyrinth seemed
on target

enough so, we let them
all walk

and, in an instant,
something turned

words were exchanged,
feelings were hurt

including mine
because it happened,
for God's sake, in the
stinking middle of
the labyrinth

the sacred circle

and then I realized
the awfulness occurred
in the palm of God's
hands, in the middle,
nestled up close

and it will be

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bound in love

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It hit me between the eyes this week: the family pattern that rears it’s ugly head less frequently, but with no less intensity, than it did 10 years ago. My husband’s off in another room; the girls and I, together for whatever reason. It’s just how it happens. The older one and I are typically engaged in something, singularly or coupled.

Lillith energy/pastel on paper
That’s when it hits. My youngest can’t help herself; she has to do something, anything, typically to garner negative attention. Often, she reels me in and I over react, yelling, exhausting myself and giving her my power.

This time, however, I didn’t and that is BIG news for me. I simply had had enough and firmly told my children to leave. Of course, it didn’t happen automatically or easily. The younger one bounced out as if she’d behaved the entire time and my eldest dawdled, which is her nature. They were pushing my buttons and boundaries.

As a result, I told them they could forget the family lunch because it required behaving. The oldest one stormed out and ran away. Before she left, she said it’s always unfair that her sister’s behavior ruins plans. I wasn’t in the mood to hear this. The youngest began to show a bit of remorse, but only after blaming her sister and because we thought she was lost.

Fortunately the oldest is not rash and just took a walk to blow off steam. While we awaited her return, I spoke to the youngest about her behavior and she confessed that she doesn’t know why she acts this way.

The next evening was my monthly archetypal-astrology class and I shared this incident when we each checked in. It was still with me. I want to understand my child and help her. I always have. Techniques work, then everything is fine and we tend to forget. And this generously compassionate and wise group understands the Lillith archetype far better than I though they know I live with it (her).
More Lillith energy/watercolor

Our group was wrapping up the topic of astrological aspects, the relationships between the planets on one’s birth chart. Gratefully, we began with the more challenging aspects like oppositions and squares, moving to trines, sextiles and, that night, conjunctions. When we began to look at Pluto and what aspects we each had in our charts, I noticed something quite odd; that I have a trine between Pluto and Lillith. A trine. That’s the one that comes so naturally and easily that we often don’t know it’s not that way with others. But dark, underworld Pluto and Lillith, the dark moon for goodness sake? Ohhhhhh, but it began to explain so many things on so many levels. “Another reason why you’re Lily’s mother,” my dear friend and group leader Charlotte pointed out. “You understand.”

I couldn’t wait to go home and Google Lillith. Of course, I had known in mythology and ancient Judaic tradition that she was Adam’s first wife. But she expected equality and, not getting it, left. She’s a passionate energy focused on fairness. She’s also anger. Hummmmmmmmmmm.

My Lily’s real issue is that she feels she is always slighted … in so many contexts. “It’s not fair,” she’s constantly whining about home, school, friends. Lest you get the idea she’s a complete pain, she is also the most empathetic, creative, caring child I have ever met. But this feeling cheated drives her.

Over the years, my shaman has mentioned that, in his experience of working with fibromyalgia, the source is often repressed anger. I never connected that to me. Til now. Lillith’s anger at not being equal. Lily’s same issue and, to a lesser degree, mine. I do expect things to be fair and get angry when they are not. Always have.

So many dots are connecting and more questions are forming, but it is comforting to see there may be an archetypal energy at work here that explains the seemingly unexplainable. It feels as if it is key to some opening for me and Lily.

Funny, in the astrology group, they asked me how I named Lily. “Shortly after Autumn was born, I met a beautiful newborn named Lily and knew if I had another girl, that would be her name.”

“So you chose her,” they collectively sighed. Yes, I did and it’s even clearer we are on this journey together.

• How do I handle it when someone I love gets under my skin?
• Can I look more broadly to see if there is a lesson?
• To see what role I have to play in this relationship?
• What’s my experience of archetypal energy been?
• How has that opened meaning for me?

she makes her
presence known

noisily, often
without regard
for needs other
than her own

she’s my wild child,
one I am to tame,

but also one from
whom I must learn
to unleash my

you see,
we have an
bound in

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rooted in the holy

pastel and paint on paper
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Ever think about spiritual currency? I hadn't, not in those exact terms, until last Sunday when our Quaker minister gave a brief message on the subject, along with a reading of Jesus' parable of the talents.

My entire being flooded with relief when she outlined the concept. It freed me to see all of the positive in my life and myself instead of the deficits that gauging oneself by secular money can bring. It has enhanced and given a different dimension to my practice of gratitude. When I account for spiritual currency, I am a very rich and very blessed woman.

ahhhhh .... I just need a minute to let that soak in. What about you?

Can you re-imagine looking at life from this perspective, instead of the out-of-whack way we're taught in society? I am so tired of being judged and valued for what I do and how much I earn. Often, the first question one is asked when initially meeting another, after a name introduction. is: What do you do? I'd much prefer: What do you believe? What matters to you? What are the good things in your life? instead. 

I try, these days, to have those sorts of encounters. They arrive, I understand, not by my own hand, but, when grace is present and I am open. Open to knowing others deeply and showing myself in that manner. There's nothing more frustrating to me than to meet someone and desire to trudge deep, knowing they may not. Sometimes, I know I can take that risk. Other times, I realize it will be wasted or misunderstood energy. On the other hand, is showing someone you care to know more about them a mistake?

Sometimes you can feel the spiritual current (cy) no matter what. I had such a rich first-meeting conversation over the summer at a wedding. Instantly, we both recognized a kindred spirit. I have been surprised by the opening and depth of strangers and disappointed by the intellectualism within my larger faith community. Alphabet-soup credentials don't impress me. Warmth and speaking from the heart do.

Sitting high in bleachers at an athletic arena the other night, I was awed at being in the minority. Not afraid or intimidated. I wanted to connect with people, not just focus on the event and its stars. Spirits were high because people wanted to be here. Mostly, they were polite as we waited for hours in cold lines. But it was colorful, whimsical and, finally, I did connect with a woman seated behind me at the arena. I have no idea of her background, where she lives, what church she attends (if, indeed, she has any faith) or what she does for a living. We bonded over her laughter. It was inviting and infectious. In fact, we could hardly say goodbye when the lines were finally exiting. The last thing I cared to know about her was what she did or how much she earned. I could clearly see God had given her the gift of a terrific sense of humor that quickly spread to others.

Talk about rich in spiritual currency!

• What is my wealth in spiritual currency?
• How has that perspective changed my thinking?
• What have I exchanged with others?
• What have I given? Received?
• How am I a better person?

counting pennies,
keeping an eye
on the bills and
savings account

planning ahead,
putting some
purchases off

living in this
world drains
me, shifts me
into looking-at-

I am far richer,
taking stock
of blessings and
spiritual gifts

and root
one in
the holy